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When you hear about liposuction, the first thought is of a thin and toned body. However, liposuction could also have a heath benefit as the procedure may lower the blood levels of triglycerides.

A recent study of 322 patients who had liposuction, or liposuction with a tummy tuck, looked at several changes in blood levels of common markers for disease risk. In patients with normal triglyceride levels, there was no change after liposuction. However, in patients with triglyceride levels above 150 mg/dL, there was a 43% reduction. In 62% of these patients, the triglyceride levels returned to normal after liposuction. Patients who underwent liposuction with a tummy tuck had less dramatic reductions. Triglyceride levels above 150 mg/dL are associated with a higher risk for metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and blockages of arteries. Significant changes were not seen in total cholesterol, low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), or high-density-lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels.

This latest study adds more knowledge about the effects of liposuction on blood lipid levels. An earlier preliminary study also showed some positive results following liposuction but a subsequent study in 2004 published in the New England Journal of Medicine found no difference in lipid levels after liposuction. However, this was a study of only 15 patients who had limited liposuction. These newer results suggest a need for more research to determine the true contribution of removing fat with liposuction to overall health.

Another potential benefit of liposuction was a reduction in white blood cell counts. Other studies suggest that patients with higher counts are at greater risk for heart disease than those with levels closer to normal.

So while not conclusive, there may be a health benefit from liposuction in patients with high triglyceride levels and white blood cell counts. More studies will need to be done to see if these improvements in blood levels will translate into actual health improvements.

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